Dear Manilyn of ten years ago, Manilyn of 2007,
How’s it going? You’re in middle school right now, right? It’s okay. It gets better. You’ll get less socially awkward eventually. (Well, that’s debatable. You just get better at loving yourself, social awkwardness and all.) That boy you have a crush on? Forget about him. You won’t even remember his last name or the color of his hair or heck, even the reason he “broke your heart” ten years from now. And you’ve just started playing violin around this time, haven’t you? Keep at it. You’re gonna have a lot of fun.
Among those things this year, something else is going to happen. A movie is going to land in theaters. It looks cute and romantic and funny, even though honestly you won’t really understand half of the humor at this point in your life. It has that guy from that 40-Year Old Virgin movie your parents watched at your uncle’s that one time.
Sometime soon, Manilyn of 2007, you’re going to watch this movie. And even though you’ve already seen plenty of movies by this point, when you watch this particular movie, you’re going to feel something stir inside you. You will notice things, like the scenery or the actors’ performances or the clever dialogue that foreshadows things to come later in the film. After you realize that such things are actually significant in the quality of a movie, you won’t be able to ignore them whenever you watch other movies. You’ll start developing a love for cinema thanks to this movie and all that you notice in it.
With this movie, however, most importantly, you’re going to notice the music.
You’ll first notice it as Steve Carell’s character drives himself and his three daughters across sprawling highways. It’s a beautiful melody, one you won’t be able to get out of your head for a long time. It perfectly captures the sensation of driving. It will make you think of the road trips you take with your parents, sitting in the backseat and staring out of the window with an excitement in your chest to arrive at your destination. And the lyrics! The lyrics! What a beautiful, simple philosophy: Be prepared to be surprised.
You’ll notice the music again and again throughout the movie as the guitar sounds provide senses of loneliness, hope, or adventure to perfectly match the storyline. And you’ll wonder whose voice you keep hearing along with this music, singing lyrics that intrigue you and inspire you.
Thankfully, Manilyn of 2007, you know how to use Google. You’ll look up “Dan in Real Life soundtrack.” You will find out that one person was responsible for the vast majority of the music of this funny little film, and you won’t even know how to pronounce his name at first. (You’ll learn eventually to the best of your abilities.) At this point, you just want to hear more. Your local library will have a copy of the Dan in Real Life soundtrack. It will also have a couple more of his records: Faces Down. Duper Sessions. Phantom Punch. These titles will become familiar words to you. You’ll borrow all these CDs and beg your parents to pop them into the CD player whenever you’re all in the car.
After you listen to all of Sondre Lerche’s music that you can get your hands on, you will begin to understand that you like this kind of music. The instrumentation. The beat. The lyrics that put to words so many emotions you are otherwise unable to articulate. And you’ll begin to search for more music like this. You’ll begin to explore and find more artists, and your music taste will expand. Music will become an important part of your life — you’re already learning violin at this point, after all. But just get ready. A whole new world is about to open up to you.
And even though this world of music is huge and massive and you’ll find new artists to listen to as you explore it further, you always come back to where it started and who it started with.
You’ll get an iPod nano for Christmas and learn how to import all those CDs you borrowed from the library into that little piece of technology you can take everywhere. And taking it everywhere is exactly what you do.
In the coming years, Manilyn of 2007, Sondre Lerche will be there for you.
You’ll spend hours trying to figure out the violin parts in the Dan in Real Life score. (You’ll convince yourself this is helping you practice violin. And honestly, it does. It helps you learn by ear.) You will listen to Duper Sessions on cloudy days. You’ll listen to Heartbeat Radio as you feel butterflies in your tummy thanks to that one boy in your class who said you had “a fantastic personality.” You’ll find all the more comfort in Sondre Lerche’s music when that same boy turns around and hurts your feelings, or when “friends” start talking about you behind your back, or when you have a fight with your parents. You’ll introduce your friends to his music, trying to share with them the joy it gives you. You’ll listen to Sondre in the car when you start to learn how to drive, just like you did when you were just a passenger in the backseat. “To Be Surprised” will always be your go-to song to listen to as you drive down highways. Sondre Lerche’s music will keep you company in good times and in bad.
And as you grow and evolve as a person, Manilyn, so will Sondre and his music, the two of you evolving on different paces and for different reasons but experiencing evolutions at the same time nonetheless. Please will drop right at the beginning of your freshman year of college. It’s different from his other music you’re so used to, but then again, as you will embark on this new chapter in your life, Sondre’s music is new too, and it’s all the more fitting. Sondre’s music will accompany you on the airplane to your semester abroad in Glasgow in the fall of 2016, the most life-changing experience of your life to date. You’ll meet someone from Norway on your first day abroad, and immediately bond thanks to Sondre again.
Manilyn of 2007, over the next ten years, whenever Sondre announces a tour in the US, you’ll look hopefully for a Chicago show — only to find out each time that he’s playing in a venue that only offers admission to those who are 21 years old or older.
And you’ll begin to tweet about it.
And Sondre Lerche will tweet back.
One time, you’ll be silly. He’ll be silly back.
And ten years from now when you finally turn 21, Manilyn of 2007, the first thing you will do is look to see if Sondre will have a tour coming up.
You will buy tickets as soon as you can, and make plans with a dear, dear friend to see him in concert. You’ll have plenty in common with this friend Mirachelle — you’re both Filipina, you both love DAVIDsTea, you both studied abroad in Glasgow at different points — but what will bring you closest with each other will be the legendary moment the two of you found out you shared a love for Sondre Lerche. (Just another thing to be thankful to Sondre for: your friendship with Mirachelle.)
Manilyn of 2007, ten years from now, on April 22, 2017,
you will fret over what to wear and how to do your hair and makeup as you get ready for something you’ve waited for for years. You will get to Lincoln Hall two hours early and freak out as you hear Sondre Lerche warming up. You’ll be old enough to buy yourself a drink, and honestly, maybe you should just to calm down, but you don’t dare to — the Manilyn of 2017 wants to experience all of of this as conscious and sober as possible. When the doors open at eight o’clock, you’ll make a bee line to the front of the stage, where you will stay for the entirety of Sondre’s opening and main sets. (Just your luck, Manilyn, you will get twice the Sondre tonight — his opening act won’t be able to make it, so Sondre will open for himself.) You will be amazed at finally being in a room full of people who all know the lyrics to Sondre’s music just like you. You will overhear the stories of people who traveled miles and miles and miles just for this concert, of people who have seen Sondre time and time again, of people just like yourself who have waited until they turned 21 to see Sondre for the first time. You will be amazed at the power of music to bring people together.
You will want to commit all of this to film, to take as many pictures and videos as possible, but you won’t except for maybe one or two pictures. Because you will want to absorb as much of this as possible through your own eyes and not the lens of a phone camera. (Another stroke of luck for you, Manilyn, Audiotree.tv will capture everything from his main set. Everything.) Sondre will croon one line of the second verse of “Minor Detail” as he makes unbroken eye contact with you at the foot of the stage. He will jump into the crowd right in front of you, and you will get to dance together, and you will be on cloud nine.
After the show, Manilyn of 2007, you will take your place in the queue of people waiting to buy merch and take pictures.
You will realize that there is so much — too much — that you want to say to this person who has been a part of your life for so long, so you begin to write it all down. (It’s still not enough, which is why you will write this blog post the next day.)
And, finally, he will be there, and you will be there, and being the overly emotional and excitable person you have always been, you will freak out even though you wish you could be cool and act normal because you’re both just people after all. You won’t be able to get anything out except for endless Thank yous to this man for keeping you company all these years. But you will be able to remember something you dreamt of when you were 16 — you will ask him for a special request:
To write down the very line from “To Be Surprised” that started it all — that began your love for Sondre’s music and by extension, music itself, a line that has not only accompanied you as a soundtrack on many long sunlit drives, but also as a philosophy you have tried to live by. By the time you’re 16, Manilyn of 2007, you will have a dream to get it tattooed because of how important it is to you. And five years after that, Sondre Lerche, being the kind, sweet soul he is, will agree. He will write out “Baby be prepared to be surprised — SL” on the other half of the paper you scrawled your own thoughts out.
You will pose for a picture with him.
You will get to hug him.
And just like that, you will leave Lincoln Hall with Mirachelle, utterly starstruck, having fulfilled a dream that was ten years in the making — not only to see this magnificent human being live and in concert, but to simply thank him.
To the Manilyn of 2007,
by 2017, you will grow immensely. You will graduate high school. You will go to college. Like anyone else, you will experience ups and downs and twists and turns. You will have your heart broken time and time again by people you trusted. You will travel and see beautiful things and meet beautiful people. You will see for yourself the ugly faces of racism and sexism. You will discover your passions for activism and sociology. You will learn how to love life and have life love you back.
Music will accompany you through it all. Sondre’s music will accompany you through it all.
But for now, Manilyn of 2007, just do this: Be prepared to be surprised.